The City of Winnipeg is poised to approve the construction of a retail store on land targeted for a Target on the Canad Inns Stadium site at Polo Park.
On Wednesday, the city's board of adjustment will consider a pair of requests to allow the construction of a 170,000-square-foot retail store on the northwest quadrant of the 10.6-hectare stadium site, which the city intends to sell for $30.25 million to a partnership between Cadillac Fairview, which owns the nearby Polo Park mall, and Winnipeg developer Shindico.
City council's property committee has already approved the sale of the land, which was declared surplus in 2010 and should be vacated by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at the end of the 2012 CFL season in November.
In a report to the property committee in June, city real estate managers said Cadillac Fairview and Shindico are pursuing a deal with Target to build a stand-alone store on 3.2 hectares at the northwest corner of the stadium site.
But when the sale was announced, Shindico development manager Bob Downs said Target, which is moving into Canada, has yet to decide whether to convert an existing Zellers store at Polo Park into a Target outlet or build a stand-alone new store.
Approval from the board of adjustment is required to ensure a 170,000-square-foot store could be built on the site, which is subject to a number of restrictions in its current stadium form.
Winnipeg planning manager Patti Regan has recommended the board approve the applications, provided the developer conducts a traffic study, works out a servicing deal for traffic improvements and submits detailed plans.
Regan's report, however, makes no mention of Target by name and does not include other details about the development.
"Aside from a preliminary site plan showing a 170,000-square-foot box, parking spots and proposed lot lines, no details of the development have been submitted at this time," she writes. "It is noted that there are currently ongoing negotiations regarding the sale of this city-owned property. The developer is seeking certainty regarding the size of the proposed retail store prior to finalizing plans."
It is not unusual for developers to request a conditional use or a variance for a project even before they own the land, said John Wintrup, the planning consultant working on behalf of Cadillac Fairview and Shindico.
"I would always advise, 'Don't buy a piece of land unless you can get a permit to build,' " said Wintrup, who was the City of Winnipeg's principal planner before he left the public service in March.
The time frame for development is relatively tight, added city spokesman Steve West. Cadillac Fairview and Shindico have "an aggressive build-out on this property and the city is taking reasonable actions to accommodate this," West said in a statement.
Along with building a retail store at the northwest quadrant of the site, Shindico and Cadillac Fairview also plan to build two smaller retail buildings, each about 7,000 square feet in area. The three stores would be part of the first phase of a development slated to wrap up by the fall of 2013, according to the city report in June.
The second phase is supposed to be mixed-use development with a residential component of some form. It should to be complete by 2018, the report said.
The city plans to spend $7.5 million from the sale of the site on Investors Group Field, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' new $190-million stadium at the University of Manitoba campus. Another $2.5 million of the sale proceeds will be spent on recreation improvements at the U of M.
The remaining $20 million of stadium-site sale proceeds will be spent on infrastructure improvements in the Polo Park neighbourhood, St. James Coun. Scott Fielding has said.